Virginia Madsen is one of Hollywood’s rare gems. Not only is she an accomplished actress, having been nominated for an Academy Award for the hit movie “Sideways,” but she also is one of the few stars who is willing to talk about a taboo subject in show business: getting older. Virginia is involved in a new education campaign to help post-menopausal women talk about and get treatment for a health condition that can damage their sex lives and destroy relationships.
Dyspareunia, a medical condition that causes painful sexual intercourse and afflicts as many as one in three women, is not something many people talk about, but Madsen is trying to change that.
“A vast majority or women are just sort of suffering in silence and they’re not talking about it,” she tells Newsmax Health. “I don’t have any problem talking about my sexual health, but I was surprised to learn how many women do.”
Dyspareunia, which primarily affects post-menopausal women, is a consequence of the changes that menopause triggers: declining estrogen levels and less pliable vaginal tissue. The aging process also can result in the vagina growing shorter and narrower. The result is friction — and pain — during intercourse.
To encourage women to seek help, Madsen appears on the website findingthewords.com. By appealing directly to women and suggesting ways to discuss the problem with their health-care providers, she hopes more women will get appropriate treatment. Among their options are over-the-counter vaginal lubricants; prescription estrogen in pill, cream, or vaginal ring form; and a non-estrogen prescription medication known as Osphena (ospemifene).
Madsen’s attitude toward aging, a topic many other people in youth-obsessed Hollywood are likely to avoid, is practical and straightforward.
“Aging is not something I consider taboo because I am [aging], and we all are,” she says. “And as I’m headed toward menopause, I wanted to empower myself with as much information as I could so that I would know what’s happening.”
Is she concerned that discussing aging will negatively impact her career?
“I can’t affect what people think,” she says. “Everyone knows how old I am; I’ve never made a secret of it. And I have great role models like Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep and Susan Sarandon. I don’t think they have much of a problem with aging either. It’s all in how we look at ourselves. Our happiness comes from within and I’ve got my feet firmly planted on the ground.”
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